The dictionary definition of marriage reads as follows: ‘any of the diverse forms of interpersonal union established in various parts of the world to form a familial bond that is recognised legally, religiously, or socially, granting the participating partners mutual conjugal rights and responsibilities’. Romantic, eh? Needless to say this is not the first thing that your nearest and dearest explain to you when that shiny new rock is sitting on your lovely little finger. The congratulations are in abundance, tears are flowing (hopefully good ones) and your fairytale (alternative or traditional) is finally within your reach. This will be the celebration that will unite you in the eyes of the law and establish you as wedding planner extraordinaire. That’s why we get married really, isn’t it? That’s why I got married!
But what people don’t tell you, what they don’t enlighten you to, is that…s**t changes when you tie that metaphorical knot. Suddenly, you have to consider someone else and what they think about which washing machine to buy or at what angle the microwave should face in the kitchen – what the hell!? Nobody ever told me that I’d have to work out what day I’m doing the laundry so it would fit in with our weekly movements so that our flat wouldn’t be full of clothes on days that we’re at home…blah blah oh god! (If I’ve put you off marriage yet, forgive me. It really is amazing and worth it if you’ve found that one person you can’t live without. My rule is, if you smile when they snore because you find it hilarious instead of mind numbingly agonising, they’re a keeper!) But, there are things that you should not shy away from before the big day. Perhaps you live together, or perhaps not – but discussing how your two singular lives will merge with expert cohesion over the coming months is definitely a conversation you should be having; if not alone, with the guidance of a reputable counsellor. Here are my 5 top tips on dealing with married life that you may not have even considered – because your friends and family ‘forgot’ to mention them!
1) Pre-marital counselling is worth every penny – Okay, I am here to set the record straight. Pre-marital counselling is nothing to be ashamed of and is not for people who are struggling or concerned with their relationship. Pre-marital counselling is there to give you loved up lovelies the tools to better deal with new situations that will inevitably crop up once that marriage certificate is signed. How to deal with bills. How to deal with arguments. (You can’t just storm off now that you have the same surname, it’s not child’s play any more – stick it out and fix it!) Do you get a joint account; who pays for what? Are there children involved and if so, how does your role as a step-parent affect them, you and your relationship? Pre-marital counselling takes my number one spot as speaking from experience, it really is worth it’s weight in gold. My recommendation is Relate in Epsom, Surrey. There’s no shame in preparing yourself for a stronger future!
2) ‘Cute’ annoying habits, will probably just become annoying… – It’s not a bad thing, more a right of passage that we’ll all go through. The snoring, the socks on the floor, the fact you like the pillows to be a certain way on the sofa and they’re ALWAYS in a complete disaster when you haven’t arranged them (not talking about me or anything) or any of those habits that under any other circumstance would drive you mad but because you’re so hopelessly, desperately in love you just smile. In time, the smile will fade…but even though you might not find their habits cute or sexy or adorable anymore, it will never be enough to tarnish the relationship that you have. The relationship that can withstand dirty socks on the floor…
3) Women will stop fussing about hair removal – sorry fellas, I am here to set the record straight. When you are in the dating phase, your lady will more than likely be soft, smooth and supple like the skin of a freshly washed apple and not out of place in an advert for Venus – ‘she’s got it’! Now I’m not saying that your significant other will abscond from all hair removal for the rest of your married life but I am saying expect her soft and supple skin to make an appearance for special events such as Valentine’s Day, your Birthday and your Anniversary. At all other times of the year, particularly during a harsh winter, there are no guarantees. I’m reasonably confident that will feature somewhere in your marriage certificate. Ladies, this is not an excuse to let yourself turn into a woolly mammoth and use a brisk wind as the reason behind it. Although it might not be a sustainable hobby, try to treat your man to more than a tri-annual prune. (P.s. we will use your razors. Deal with it. Thanks)
4) Bills, glorious bills! – If you hadn’t lived together before you tied the knot, how is that reality slap stinging? Whilst coming home to your husband or wife and sinking into their arms after a long day at work is just amazing, figuring out the money side of things is not so fun. Who pays for what? Do you split everything? What if they earn more than you? What if they have savings but you don’t? It can get a little uncomfortable in the early stages of married life as all you want to do is please each other. Whatever the monetary issues might be that you face from the beginning of your marriage onwards, face them head on and without any insecurities. It’s far better to be open and honest rather than being bitter and resentful. Money is money. It will come and it will go. It holds no power over your emotions and love for one another so approach it objectively and concentrate on more important matters like chocolate and sex!
5) Make a conscious effort to stay social – It’s easy to get swept up in newly married bliss but don’t forget all of those friends who got you to this stage in your life, got you through your hen do or your stag do (hopefully without any shaved eyebrows or missing limbs) and got you to the alter. It’s so easy when you’re newly married to skip a night with your bestie or forgo a night on the town because you want a cuddly night in. What happens when those friends get tired of asking you? Whilst you have the support and companionship of your new beloved, friendship outside of your relationship is so important. It gives you the opportunity to express other sides of you, to relive experiences you had way back when and to feel whole and complete as a social being and butterfly! This doesn’t mean you can’t go out as a couple to socialise. If you can’t imagine leaving your partner for a night on the town or to start a new hobby that you’ve been waiting to pursue (after the wedding debt is a thing of the past) then go out together with other couples, friends, colleagues – but keep this part of your life full, fun and rich.
These are my Top 5 things that I have learnt during my time in the wedding industry, my time as a woman and my time as a married woman. Of course they will vary for everyone but I’m sorry, number 3 will never vary, it will always feature in your lists and if anyone says differently they are either superwoman in my books or lying – “simples”!
The most important thing to remember is that marriage is a life long commitment, the most meaningful way we know how to express our love to another person. Although in time our actions may change and we may face times of adversity, what you will hopefully be left with is an unshakable and unfathomably intimate connection with your soul mate. To be cripplingly romantic I will finish with a quote from Wuthering Heights: “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary”.